Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Suspicious Indian

India ranks pretty much at the bottom of the world when it comes to contract enforcement.  This doesn't mean that people are honest and only in the rare case that the contracts are breached that there is a problem.  It also points to the fact that contracts might be being broken with impunity without fear of consequences.  With an understanding of behavioral economics, it stands to reason that without a strong disincentive, people will try to gain unfair advantages over others.

That means, not only is there no justice in India, there is no incentive to being ethical in India.  And hence, being ethical is an exception rather than a norm in India.

This has some curious consequences and corollaries which I will explore in this essay.
  1. The vast majority of Indians live in a state of terror.  They are afraid that they will not get their due.  They are in a constant state of insecurity and risk-avoidance.  They are apprehensive that they will be cheated and short-changed.  They don't venture out of the familiar because who will protect them if things go wrong.

  2. Indians do not trust and respect each other.  Trust is predicated on whether there are legal consequences for breaking that trust.  In India there is no real consequence.  Hence, there is no trust.  Indians see others as out to cheat them.  Therefore, they see no harm in cheating them first.

  3. Indians are blank-faced and not very expressive in day-to-day interactions.  They do not betray what they are thinking inwardly.  They are hawk-eyed, gawking and staring at others, but not expressing much themselves.  They only react in extremes.  Extreme anger, extreme pity, extreme sorrow, ... make them suddenly explode with emotion.  Mild emotion is kept repressed.  Expressiveness is a sign of a trusting society.  To express is to be vulnerable.  To be vulnerable in a society of cheats is to be suicidal.

  4. Indians are perceived as untrustworthy and opportunistic by more educated and trusting societies.

  5. Indians are pleasantly surprised when they travel to a trusting society.  They are amused that people are following rules and laws without any overt enforcement.  They find it a bit comical though they grudgingly admire this vision of "paradise".

  6. Indians are hypocritical and sociopathic.  Their cheating persona (which is a consequence of, and which feeds, the cheating atmosphere) makes them incapable of being congruent and wholesome.  They rail against other Indians' corruption while turning a blind eye to their own corruption.  They have a huge "secret self" full of shame which expresses itself in anonymous groping, shoplifting, petty thievery, bad hygiene, decrepit underwear, shabby dwelling spaces, ... In general, an impassive, moralistic public persona and a shameful private persona.


Pankaj said...

ye thoda jyaada ho gya.

Anonymous said...

You are a carrier/propagator of 'Indian' DNA inherited from your parents You (as a carrier of a unique Indian DNA) came into existence at soon after the moment of your "conception". You were ejected out of your 'Indian' mother's womb (or equivalent) at the time of your "birth". You cease to exist at the moment of your "death".....One would assume going by your name and your blog that you were Indian.:):)

Surender Baswana said...

Isn't it meaningless as well as false to categorize any society ("Indian" in the present situation) with characteristics as if these are
satisfied ONLY by the people of that society ? I think each society has all kinds of people though the distribution may differ. Though I have found yor other articles very thought provoking, I fail to understand what does one gain by writing or reading the current article ?

Harmanjit Singh said...

@surender, glad to hear from you. I think there are some features in the history and sociopolitics of India that exerts some influence on a general trend of insecurity and being suspicious. The fact of India being at the bottom of contract-enforcement index puts our state in sharp focus.